[Cross-posted from the Chapel Hill News]
We’re fortunate to live in a community with many resources and services. That’s a large part of what makes southern Orange County so appealing to newcomers, and so hard for natives and Carolina graduates to leave.
But our community isn’t perfect. We don’t have it all. The way we live is changing, and so our community and the things we want to see in it have to change, too. How we currently live and how people will live in 50 years are sure to be different. It’s important that we keep this evolution in mind in making decisions now that shape our community later.
We should start today to identify what’s missing in our community. For example, community conversations have already identified a desire for things like an arts district, more robust public transit options, more green space, housing options that are affordable for everyone, retail choices that don’t require driving to Durham, and commercial space to support microenterprises and makers.
The talking-at-elected-officials-at-podiums-at-7-p.m. model isn’t working for the great majority of residents in our community. This method excludes too many people, and it privileges those who can spend many hours participating in lengthy meetings.
It is clear from recent police forums and from experiences shared by people of color in our communities that we have a serious problem with racial equity in policing in Orange County. The most recent example is a guest column by Stephanie Perry in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News (12/21/14). Perry serves with me on the board of Orange County Justice United. We heard other stories like this during the Carrboro community forum on policing in October.
Law enforcement behavior that is disproportionately affecting communities of color is unacceptable to me. It is especially troubling to see that these disparities exist in our communities regardless of how enlightened we think we are. I am cautiously optimistic about the steps I see the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Departments taking.
The six zones selected to compete for resources to address poverty in their communities will be making their presentations to the Orange County Family Success Alliance followed by discussion and voting for the two to be funded first.
More information: http://orangecountync.gov/health/fsa.asp
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 -
3:30pm to 6:00pm
Whitted Human Services Complex (300 West Tryon Street in Hillsborough)
Extensive mold and other serious maintenance issues, unannounced inspections, living with no water, play equipment removed, violence, disrepect by management, inability to use shared resources, children not allowed to play outside.....
Would you be surprised to know that these are just some of the complaints coming from our neighbors who live in affordable housing complexes throughout Orange County (Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough)?
Orange County Justice United is partnering with residents in all of these complexes to organize the community, conduct neighborhood audits to acertain the extend of the issues, present these findings to management, and have the issues addressed.
The Gateway Village Apartments in Hillsborough is one such housing complex. A story about our work together can be found here.
We know that there is a shortage of affordable housing in our communities. We must work to ensure that the affordable housing that is available, is welcoming unless we want to be a community of the wealthy.
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